Instagram has this week published two new guide books, both for parents and for teens, to help them better understand how to use the app safely, and how to manage the potential psychological impacts of navigating the feed.
Produced in conjunction with The Jed Foundation, which works to promote measures to protect the emotional health of teens and young adults, the guide books contain a range of insights into how Instagram works, and aim to shine a light on what's happening behind the scenes for each user, in order to reduce unhealthy comparison.
As explained in the Pressure to be Perfect guide:
"Pressure to be Perfect is about recognizing that what you see posted by others is just one part of their story - a single post or video rarely reflects all that is happening behind the scenes. That realization can help free us from the pressure of thinking we need to conform to a certain set of standards when we post, moving from a mindset of comparing yourself with others to one where you are thoughtfully sharing yourself with others could help make the time you spend on Instagram more intentional and rewarding."
The teen guide includes a range of interactive quizzes, with summary rundowns, based on the readers' answers, which are designed to help Instagram users glean more perspective about how they use the app.
Once you've gained a bit more of an understanding of your approach, the guide then outlines further steps you can take to better frame and manage your Instagram usage, with tips on how and when to block other users, links to help resources, exercises and more.
The parents guide focuses more on what to look for in young users, including warning signs which could indicate that your child is suffering from depression or similar. The guide also includes tips on the Instagram tools which are available to help, and what parents can do to help their kids improve their online experiences.
This is a key area of focus for Instagram.
As has been well-publicized this year, Instagram has been working to implement more measures to better protect and assist at-risk users, the most notable of these being the removal of total Like counts, which is designed to reduce the comparative pressure implied within the app.
Various academic studies have shown that the visual focus of Instagram can lead to negative mental health consequences, with some even identifying Insta as "the worst social media network for mental health and wellbeing". Such impacts have been heightened even further in recent times with the rise of Photoshop-style editing apps which enable users to smooth out their skin, increase the size of their eyes, and warp heir body into unrealistic, sometimes even impossible shapes.
Newer apps are now being developed to detect digitally altered elements in images, and highlight potential areas of change in a photo, which, potentially, at some stage, Instagram could consider implementing as an upload scan, maybe blocking those images which have been heavily altered.
There are various implications to such process, but as noted, the platform is already eliminating Like counts to reduce that pressure. Highlighting specific editing tricks and changes like this could prove even more effective in lessening unrealistic comparison.
These are no doubt measures that Instagram is already investigating, and the addition of tools like these new guides add to the expanding toolset which Instagram is providing to help ensure that people feel more comfortable about posting on the platform.
Every one of these measures helps, and its good to see social platforms looking to provide more assistance in this respect.